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Fire and flood resilience project gets insurers’ backing

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Insurers have applauded the Minderoo Foundation’s newly released blueprint for lifting Australia to be the global leader in fire and flood resilience by 2025.

The ambitious technology-led plan to transform Australia’s fire detection and response capability was revealed in Canberra by the Minderoo Foundation, a philanthropic organisation founded by mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest.

The Fire Shield Mission was launched at the National Press Club on Tuesday by Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews and Minderoo Fire and Flood Resilience Initiative CEO Adrian Turner.

He outlined an ambition to be able to detect and extinguish blazes anywhere on the continent by 2025, suggesting the plan could be “Australia’s very own Apollo mission”.

“We’re setting a target of less than five years to deliver generational change,” Mr Turner said. “We are determined to radically change the way we predict, detect, monitor and respond to fire, in collaboration with communities, government agencies and emergency services.”

The project brings together a coalition of more than 50 corporate partners and scientific organisations, including IAG, Suncorp, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re, Risk Frontiers and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre.

The Fire Shield Mission accelerates the use of technologies such as automated monitoring cameras, drones, satellite technology, remote sensing and machine learning to rapidly detect and respond to bushfires.

Existing and emerging technology should enable fire agencies to extinguish dangerous fires within an hour, according to research backed by the program.

Minderoo also aims to have one common system for sharing significant national and global resilience data to support decision-making and action, and address the current “fragmented view of national capabilities and impact”.

The Insurance Council of Australia says the blueprint is the first of its kind and brings together public and private sector experts to collaborate on improving Australia’s natural disaster and extreme weather resilience.

“The data-driven approach and the focus on actionable change aligns with the ICA Climate Change Action Committee’s goal of maintaining an insurable Australia in the face of a changing climate,” the council said.